Ben-aharon Calls for Trade Union Approach to Middle East Conflict

Yitzhak Ben-Aharon, secretary general of Histadrut, said yesterday that if Egypt, Syria and Jordan sat around the negotiating table with Israel in the “good tradition of trade unionism,” of “give and take” and with “no preconceived ideas” Israel and the Arabs would “come closer to a genuine peace” in the Middle East. Addressing the AFL-CIO convention here, where he delivered greetings from the Histadrut Executive Committee, Ben-Aharon stated that “in the Middle East as in Middle Europe, just as between the Super Powers, peace cannot be replaced by appeasement and mutual compromise by abject surrender to brutal force.”

Stating that Israel had been offered arbitrators from “here and everywhere” who, before entering the dispute, demand that the Arabs be appeased. Ben-Aharon observed that “everyone in this hall understands that the working men and women of Israel will not accept this demand.” He noted that “just five years ago Jerusalem was a place of strife and murder.” Today, he continued, “Jerusalem is one and united, a city of peace, progress and good will.”

Focusing on the plight of Jewry in the Soviet Union and Arab countries, Ben-Aharon asserted that the world was witnessing “a mighty drama” within the USSR where “after more than a half century of repression, the three million Jews there have spoken out and braved the terror of Soviet justice in order to seek freedom in Israel. We thank the American labor movement which has led in the world-wide outcry on behalf of the imprisoned Jews of Russia.”

Continuing, he said: “Nor do we forget for a moment the thousands of our people living in jeopardy in the Moslem countries, notably Syria and Iraq. They too cry out for liberation and they too will find their freedom in Israel.” Ben-Aharon paid tribute to the AFL-CIO for its aid to Histadrut and its affiliates through the years, adding that “we, too, have helped others. We have extended, against all odds, vital assistance to some 50 nations of the African, Asian and Latin American world, on the basis of mutual aid, of give and take.”

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